Title: Next Stop: Funnel Cake
Author: Heidi Champa
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Amber Allure
Publisher Buy Link: Next Stop: Funnel Cake
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 19,000 words
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: Not enough backstory and I never got around to liking the characters enough to get into it.
Travis Webber has been working at his uncle’s amusement park since the days of keeping money in his pocket during the summers of high school and college. But, with his college career cut prematurely short, it’s turned into a full-time job. To add insult to injury, he’s forced to spend the bulk of his summer driving the train that runs through the park. This isn’t a huge problem, however, until someone from his past recognizes him.
Andrew Baxter, the guidance counselor who helped Travis in high school, recognizes him immediately, in spite of the seven years that have passed—and Travis’s cheesy overalls. When he invites Travis out to catch up on old times, Travis is reluctant, but his long-dormant crush on Andrew from his teenaged years is still enough to make him say “yes.”
As the two men get reacquainted, demons from Travis’s past threaten to grind the reunion to a halt. Can Travis learn to trust again and let Andrew into his life, or will old hurts derail his future?
I’ve mentioned in past reviews how much of a gamble it is for me when I read a novella. I say that because I sometimes long for the parts of the story which weren’t written more than I enjoy what is written. My gamble didn’t pay off with Next Stop: Funnel Cake.
I had a few issues with the book but the biggest one was the feeling that important things had been left out. I really wanted a conversation about the past between Travis and Andrew. I needed to know how well they knew each other in high school and what their relationship was like back then. I’m still unsure how they went from a student/advisor acquaintance seven years ago to immediately dating. Honestly, the intensity of Andrew’s pursuit of Travis upon reacquaintance seemed very strange. It struck me as being creepy. If Travis had been a friend of mine, I would have been advising him to avoid Andrew and ignore the phone calls.
The second issue is one of my common complaints, the relationship moved way too quickly. My brain didn’t transition from Andrew being the pervy ex-advisor to the new lover anywhere near the pace at which the story moved. I needed more time to make that jump and felt the book left me behind.
The next issue came as a surprise for me. I had my initial bad reaction to Andrew but I did eventually move beyond that. What came as a surprise was my reaction to Travis once I got to know him a little better. I started off thinking of him as a good guy down on his luck but then later in the story I saw his as being sullen and whiny. I lost any connection I had with him as he started complaining about his parents’ divorce and them no longer having the money to pay for his education. I was less than impressed with him at that point.
I’m not saying this was a bad story, it just wasn’t that good. It would have been better if I had some more history and got to know the characters better. The biggest problem for me was that it was too short for me to care about what happened between Travis and Andrew.